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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | The Daruma Doll

The Daruma Doll


Daruma 1

The Daruma Doll

Back in the last week of July, I was certain that my first post after August First Impressions was going to be an explanation of why I gave up on my WIP, BRANEWORLD.

I was about 35k into the story, and I was stuck. I hadn’t written any new words in a week, and I didn’t see any reason to keep struggling with it. Plus, I was feeling low and missing my husband, who was on a 2-week business trip to Japan. That’s the longest we’ve been separated since we met 22 years ago.

Bob was a big supporter of this story, so when he got home at the beginning of August, I broke the news to him. BRANEWORLD was dead. To talk it over, Bob escorted me to the place where we conduct our most serious discussions: the hot tub, with martinis.

I explained my three reasons for giving up:

1. The science in the story was flawed

2. The plot holes were insurmountable

3. The characters were lifeless and uninteresting

Bob suggested another reason:

4. I was psyching myself out about writing the first book un-related to the Eighth Day series since 2011 – and also the first since I quit my teaching job.

Picture it: Romantic moonlight and stars, warm water, vodka martinis (straight up with olives), reunited after a long 2 weeks – and we decided to spend the evening exploring string theory.

Talking it over with my husband I realized:

1. The science was more plausible than I thought it was. It has basis in real theory.

2. Explaining the plot holes to Bob helped me to think up solutions to them.

“But I’ve never had this much trouble bringing characters to life,” I said.

“Yes, you have,” Bob reminded me. “We’ve had this conversation before.”

He was right. When I went back and looked in my 2011 blog file, I discovered I’d even written about it in a post called D.O.A. (A good reason to blog: It’s like a diary.) I came close to abandoning that story too, but instead I re-cast some of the characters and started over. It’s now one of my favorite manuscripts.

He was also right about me psyching myself out. In 2012, I told everyone that the urban fantasy I was writing was WAY outside my comfort zone and I would probably never finish it. Three urban fantasies later, the Eighth Day world IS my comfort zone, and I’m scared to leave it.

So,  I did not give up on BRANEWORLD, and I’ve added 4k more words so far. I accept its flaws.

Leandra Wallace recently shared this quote with me:

I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box

so that later I can build castles. ~Shannon Hale

And I also saw this on Cynthia’s blog, Read is the New Black:

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s just that you’re editing too early.”

~ Stephen Chbosky

One of the gifts Bob brought me from Japan is a Daruma Doll. According to Wikipedia: Daruma dolls are seen as a symbol of perseverance and good luck, making them a popular gift of encouragement.

The eyes of the Daruma are blank white, with no pupil. The receiver of the doll is supposed to fill in one pupil on setting a goal – and the other pupil on meeting it. The Daruma, looking a little off-balance with just one pupil, is supposed to bring me luck and remind me of my goal every day.

Thank you, Bob. I set my goal – completing a manuscript (revised,polished, and worthy of showing to my agent) that is not part of the Eighth Day series. It might be BRANEWORLD – and I hope it is – or it might be something else.

Until this is accomplished, Daruma will remind me.

Daruma 2

14 Responses to The Daruma Doll

  1. mshatch says:

    Bob is awesome. I’m glad your romantic night in the hot tub resulted in more Braneword 🙂

  2. Hilary says:

    Hi Diane .. I think I agree with you and MSHatch – Bob is awesome .. I can believe you missed him after 22 years together .. long time separation is two weeks.

    It’s great he supports you through thick and thin – and WIPs and W(h)ines – though they be vodka martinis! Good luck it will all come right and you need time to adjust and settle to no school and having Bob around again …

    Enjoy – cheers Hilary

  3. You just needed an outside perspective on it. Glad you’re excited about it again.
    I know how you feel though. I wasn’t sure I’d get through my latest manuscript since it was set in a different universe than my Cassa series. Didn’t realize how comfortable I’d become with Byron’s world until I attempted another.

  4. What a neat present- and super relevant too! Sounds like Bob knows you well. (which is how it should be after 22 years, huh?) =D And that Chbosky quote certainly hits home. I’m way guilty of going back and trying to make things perfect way before I should. Anyhoo, here’s to future castles! 😉

  5. Awesome that you can talk with your hubs like that. Being able to sit down with someone and simply talk things through can be so helpful. (We tend to brain block ourselves unnecessarily). And I’m glad he got you to write it again. I’m looking forward to reading it someday!
    I have similar problems with my WIPs. They aren’t flowing fast or well, and it’s for the same reasons you mentioned above. Guess I’ll just plow through 😉

  6. Angela Brown says:

    The awesomeness of having a supportive spouse can’t be denied. Glad you received that extra oomph to kick things into gear.

    As I’ve shared, I’ve been in my own little writing world to afraid to get out of it, but not any longer, not after acknowledging the fear so I can begin removing its hold on me.

    May your daruma doll have a second pupil soon 🙂

  7. It’s interesting how authors who write series get hooked by the world and the characters they’ve created. Totally understand that. Totally understand how martinis, a hot tub and an wonderful husband can knit up any woe in the world. Here’s to filling in that next pupil.

  8. “Yes, you have,” … “We’ve had this conversation before.” How quickly we forget these there. So, glad you have him around. And I like the way to discuss things – in the hot tub with martinis. That’s old school, baby!

  9. J E Oneil says:

    Sometimes books don’t work. Sometimes you just need someone to keep you going. I think it’s hilarious that he had to tell you that you’ve already had that conversation 🙂

  10. I love both Hale and Chbosky’s quotes. I think I will print those and hang them up where I can see them everyday.

    I’m so glad you’re not giving up on your WIP.

    In my experience, Bobs are always great for advice. I’ve got one too. Unfortunately, we don’t have a hot tub.

  11. Gwen Gardner says:

    Oh you have an awesome hubster. Cool gift, too. I’m really afraid to write outside of my series. Not sure I can do it. Can I borrow your hubs? LOL.

  12. Robin says:

    You are the luckiest woman I know. You have a Bob in your life that loves and encourages you. Plus you have a hot tub. ::so jealous right now::

    The only part of this story that left me scratching my head was how/why you spent the entire night on STRING THEORY. Hahaha. To each her own…. 😉